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Charles Mahoney (1903-1968):
Gas Mask Drill, Ambleside, circa 1942
Unmounted (ref: 9196)
Signed with initials, squared
Pencil on tracing paper, laid on conservation paper
14 3/4 x 11 in. (37.4 x 28 cm)
Provenance: The Artist's Estate
Literature: Paul Liss, Charles Mahoney, London 1999, p. 54. WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 30, page 68.
In 1940, the Royal College of Art was evacuated to Ambleside in the Lake District, with Mahoney and Percy Horton among the male staff.
Mahoney produced a number of studies for a large painting or mural (possibly never execucted, or whereabouts unknown) showing school children practising a gas mask drill. Most of the compositional ideas set the scene in the playgound rather than classroom.
Gas masks were issued to all children as a precaution against attack by gas bombs, and gas-mask drill (‘remove mask from box, put mask on face, check mask fits correctly, breathe normally’) was a daily feature of school life in the SecondWorldWar.
The masks came in cardboard boxes with a strap for carrying them on the shoulder. Children were instructed to keep their masks with them at all times.
A related study is in the collection of the V&A museum.